An INDIAN insight into Europe



Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway visited India from 6-9 January 2019. Norway was among the first few countries to recognize India after independence. On 7 January 2019, she inaugurated the revamped Norwegian embassy at New Delhi that showcases a completely sustainable ecosystem run on renewable energy, making it a one of its kind green building in Delhi. This self contained ecosystem is critical for India as it offers a model for infrastructure upgrade at the rural level using solar energy and other technologies that enabled the creation of a sustainable complex. Norway, one of the 5 Nordic countries with a high standard of living has a lot of insight to offer India in using technology to adapt to a sustainable lifestyle. Together the five Nordic countries have a strong bilateral relation with India and the first India-Nordic Summit took place in 2018 in Stockholm, with New Delhi also keen to diversify and strengthen its relations with all the Nordic countries.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was also the chief guest at the inauguration of the Raisina Dialogue 2019, a joint foreign policy flagship initiative of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation. Solberg strongly emphasised sustainability and addressing the challenges of globalisation and trade. She underlined that both countries are maritime nations with a strong interest to develop and use the oceans and has established the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy that works with ‘serving world leaders’, with the aim to adopt an integrated ocean management approach instead of a sectoral approach to promote ocean protection and productivity. Calling for a rules based international order, she said “The principle ‘might is right’ cannot be used as a basis for governing our oceans, or anything else, for that matter”.

Since 2016, she has co-chaired the UN Secretary-General’s group of SDG advocates and strongly emphasised that it is the collective responsibility of all countries to implement the SDGs and “The 17 goals make it very clear that, in this context, we are all developing countries”. Although Norway is ranked number one on the Human Development Index, she reiterated that it also has to do a lot more and sustainable change cannot be achieved overnight and finding answers to climate change issues requires global cooperation.

PM Solberg’s visit to India was also to review the bilateral relationship and aimed at boosting the economic and political aspects. Oslo is a strong proponent of non-proliferation and has supported India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Nuclear Suppliers Group. It has also endorsed India’s bid for a UN Security Council seat. Norway is not a member of the European Union and offers another dimension of engagement since it is one of the countries with a close stake in the Artic region. She emphasised that India and Norway can do more on this, given India’s strong scientific research in the North Pole and South Pole. Stating that “the Arctic has become an arena for cooperation between Europe, North America and Asia” she anticipated, a “stronger Indian engagement in the work of the Arctic Council in the time ahead”.

Around 100 Norwegian companies are engaged in India either through joint ventures with Indian partners or through wholly owned subsidiaries in areas such as, ship building, petroleum related services, marine/sub-sea drilling equipment, hydropower, clean energy, and IT services. Although Norway is a very small country with a population of 5.3 million, it has achieved a very high standard of living. In 2014, Indian child rights activist Mr. Kailash Satyarthi was awarded the Peace prize for “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education". The base for Norway and India cooperation is that they “share many values, and a deep commitment to democracy and a rules-based world order”, PM Solberg concluded and that holds significance at a time when the ‘a world reorder’ is taking place.